Barr says Trump is responsible for Jan. 6 Capitol attack

Former Attorney General William Barr believes that former President Donald Trump was responsible for the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

“I do think he was responsible in the broad sense of that word, in that it appears that part of the plan was to send this group up to the Hill,” Barr told NBC News host Lester Holt in an interview that is scheduled to air on Sunday. “I think the whole idea was to intimidate Congress. And I think that that was wrong.”

But Barr added that he has not seen evidence that Trump was “legally responsible for it in terms of incitement.”

The assault on the Capitol occurred after Trump spoke at a “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, D.C., and urged the crowd to march to the Capitol while Congress was in the process of certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election. A violent mob of Trump supporters then stormed the building in an insurrection that left multiple people dead and more than 140 officers injured.

More than 725 people have since been charged by the Justice Department. A bipartisan select committee probing the insurrection has issued hundreds of subpoenas, including to members of Trump’s family. In a court filing this week, the House panel said Trump and his associates engaged in a “criminal conspiracy” to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory, spread false information about the outcome and pressured state officials to overturn the results, potentially violating multiple federal laws.

Trump supporters clash with police outside the Capitol.
Trump supporters clash with police outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images) (Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag)

In the interview, Barr recalled that Trump became enraged when he told him there was no evidence that the 2020 election was fraudulent.

“I told him that all this stuff was bullshit,” Barr said. “And, you know, it was wrong to be shoveling it out the way his team was.”

Barr said Trump summoned him to a meeting at the White House on Dec. 1, 2020, after the Associated Press published an interview in which Barr said there was no evidence of any widespread voter fraud in the election.

He said he told Trump that the Justice Department had investigated and found no evidence to support the various conspiracy theories that the president and his legal team were pushing.

“He was asking about different theories, and I had the answers. I was able to tell him, ‘This was wrong because of this,’” Barr recalled. Trump listened but was “obviously getting very angry about this.”

Barr said he then told Trump: “I understand you’re upset with me. And I’m perfectly happy to tender my resignation.”

According to Barr, Trump then slapped his desk and said, “Accepted. Accepted.”

Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr.
Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr. (Leah Millis/Reuters/File) (Leah Millis / reuters)

“And then — boom. He slapped it again. ‘Accepted. Go home. Don’t go back to your office. Go home. You’re done,’” Barr said.

The former attorney general said Trump had White House lawyers stop him before he left the premises to tell him he wasn’t fired, but the president continued to assail him in public. Barr submitted his formal resignation two weeks later.

Holt noted that Trump had sent a three-page statement to the network responding to Barr’s interview, calling his former attorney general a “coward,” a “big disappointment” and “lazy.” Trump also said Barr’s forthcoming memoir, “One Damn Thing After Another: Memoirs of an Attorney General,” was “fake.”